Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
Kolkata, India, also known as a “City of Joy” for its vibrant diversity and as one of the most important cultural centers in the country, exemplifies many issues that are related to overpopulation, weak enforcement of planning regulations, informal housing, natural ecological degradation, and lack of social cohesion. The development of modernized neighborhoods in the outskirts coincided with the internal migration of the middle class and furthered the social gap. Wetlands east of the city, which used to provide a substantial amount of food and livelihood for the city, have been diminishing due to urban development. The lack of necessities and services have caused a spatial divide whereby slums and homeless population have overtaken the natural ecosystem making Kolkata the second most polluted metropolis in India. The thesis springs from the charge of bringing together the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the diverse social groups, while restoring the natural habitat at the edge of the city. Building upon the concept of "hybridity" proposed by Homi Bhabha, an Indian English scholar, and critical theorist, the thesis explores similarities between two places to overcome the dialectic gap between natural and man-made, formal and informal, social classes, tradition, and modernity. The thesis reflects on the issues ingrained into the social and spatial conditions of Kolkata by reforming the urban ecology of Circular Canal which connects the Hooghly river to the wetlands and links the inner city to the newer modern suburbs. This waterway has been neglected over the years, now is polluted and its banks are covered by slums. The thesis employs urban ecology strategies to restore the natural habitat of the canal while weaving it in social activities of bazaars, parks, step wells for religious and cultural ceremonies while providing new housing for those displaced. The design re-links the waterways and the street network between two parts of the city. The design uses local material and building techniques, and native plants for the canal slopes while employing the vernacular step wells to reignite the connection of people with the water.
Patel, Varshil, "Ecological Urbanism | Design Strategies for Bridging the Social Gap in Kolkata" (2019). Bachelor of Architecture Theses - 5th Year. 91.